LIVESTOCK-U.S. cattle futures, beef prices decline

CHICAGO, June 18 (Reuters) - U.S. live cattle futures fell on Thursday as boxed beef prices tumbled under pressure from rising production.

Beef output has increased as meat companies increase slaughtering after temporarily closing processing plants in April and May because of outbreaks of the new coronavirus among workers.

Processors killed an estimated 120,000 cattle on Thursday, up from 117,000 cattle a week earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Prior to the pandemic, they killed as many as 124,000 cattle on a day.

Prices for choice cuts of boxed beef fell by $4.29 to $213.64 per cwt, while select cuts slid $2.02 to $206.06 per cwt, according to the USDA.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange August live cattle futures settled down 0.750 cent at 96.100 cents per pound. August feeder cattle futures settled down 0.600 cent at 132.975 cents per pound.

In the pork market, processors slaughtered about 460,000 hogs on Thursday, compared with 450,000 hogs a week earlier and as many as 498,000 a day before plants shut because of the outbreak, according to USDA data.

CME July lean hog futures rose 0.250 cent to 49.900 cents per pound amid technical buying, traders said. August futures settled up 0.300 cent at 53.475 cents.

Analysts said China could potentially reduce imports of U.S. pork as the country attempts to rebuild its hog herd after it was devastated by a deadly pig disease.

The coronavirus is also a concern in China, the world’s top pork consumer, after Chinese officials said trading sections for meat and seafood in Beijing’s wholesale food market were contaminated with the disease.

The USDA said in a weekly export sales report that China bought 9,991 tonnes of U.S. pork in the week ended June 11, the biggest weekly total since April 30. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Dan Grebler)